What’s In The Water Around St. Louis? Area Rapidly Becoming A Basketball Hotbed

What's In The Water Around St. Louis? Area Rapidly Becoming A Basketball Hotbed

Throughout most of our time spent at the NIKE Spring Showdown in Romeoville, IL this past weekend the bulk of our conversation with college coaches and other scouts in attendance centered around the enormous rise in talent with respect to high school basketball in St. Louis and the nearby areas in southern Illinois.  All are in agreement that it is absolutely outstanding, especially in the class of 2017. 

This young talent boom was plainly evident last month in the Illinois Class 3A finals while watching a loaded Belleville Althoff squad finish second in the state.  Their top three players will all be returning next season.  It was confirmed even further at the NIKE Spring Showdown, especially in the 16-under division.  

Both the St. Louis Eagles and the Southwest Illinois Jets wound up advancing to the semifinals in the first place bracket of the 16-under playoffs.  A number of players from each team stepped up big time and proved to be among the event’s top performers, including some who we were previously unaware of.

In this entry we take a close look at those players from the St. Louis region who turned in notable performances in Romeoville during the first live week of the Spring evaluation period.  By doing so, they have undoubtedly put themselves on the map in the eyes of college recruiters.   

  • Jordan Goodwin          6’3   2017   2G   Belleville (Althoff)   St. Louis Eagles 16-U

Goodwin was hands down the best player that we watched from start to finish and picked up right where he left off after his outstanding performance in the 3A state finals.  He did it all in the Eagles’ pool play victory over Team Corey Brewer and was even better in their win over the Illinois Irish Elitein the semifinals of the 16-under first place bracket.  Simply put, Goodwin goes to war game in and game out.  He finishes consistently on the break, handles the ball well and is as good a rebounder as one will find for a player his size.  The only thing that remains iffy is Goodwin’s ability to stick jumpers from long range.  But make no mistake about it–Goodwin is clearly among the top 5 prospects in Illinois from the 2017 class and will be raking in scholarship offers including some high majors before too long.

  • Javon Pickett               6’5   2017   WF   Belleville (East)   S.W. IL Jets 16-U

In some stretches Pickett was every bit as good as Goodwin.  This was especially true in the Jets’ win over the Mac Irvin Fire in the semifinals of the 16-under first place bracket, where he was the best player on the floor.  What is ironic is that Pickett’s overall skill set is quite similar to Goodwin’s.  He has the same non-stop motor, level of athleticism and work ethic that allows him to get it done around the basket.  In addition, Pickett utilizes his long wing span at the defensive end and consistently converts mid-range pullups.  While Pickett may not be quite as well-rounded as Goodwin just now, he is not far behind.  In fact, from what we saw in Romeoville we believe he is certainly good enough to be called a top 10 prospect in the state’s 2017 class.

  • Maurice Edwards         6’2   2017   CG   Alton (H.S.)   S.W. IL Jets 16-Under

Edwards is one of those players where position may not end up mattering due to how hard he plays and the fact that he simply gets results.  His thick frame and strong upper body allow him to consistently power his way to the basket and convert buckets.  Not only that, but Edwards can also put the ball on the floor and is also adept at getting out on the break.  Edwards may not lock into either guard spot just yet and doesn’t exactly pass the look test upon first glance, but the bottom line is that he is productive and therefore a player that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

  • Tarkus Ferguson         6’4   2016   WF   Belleville (Althoff)   S.W. IL Jets 17-Under

There is no question that Ferguson has talent, but after watching him in the Class 3A state finals we still had some questions.  Those were answered in a big way after viewing Ferguson at the NIKE Spring Showdown.  Above all else, Ferguson is a high energy guy.  He is highly athletic, active and has a great nose for the ball.  While Ferguson is yet another player who doesn’t clearly lock into one position, we find him to be highly intriguing.  Should he ultimately shed that tweener tag, watch out!

  •  Tyler Dancy                6’7   2017   PF   Belleville (West)   S.W. IL Titans

Dancy is kind of the hidden gem of this group.  Nevertheless, he was impressive when we watched him in pool play competition versus the Mac Irvin Fire.  Dancy is a widebody who is strong and physical.  More importantly, he is a post player who seems to recognize where his strengths lie, as Dancy is an effective rebounder and scorer in the paint.  Although Dancy is just scratching the surface of his potential at this time, he certainly appears to be one who could emerge among the better front court prospects in Illinois from 2017.

Editor’s Note: A special thanks goes out to Toi Baylor and everyone involved with the Baylor Youth Foundation and TMTSportz for their wonderful hospitality and for running a first-class event.  The bottom line is that they did an outstanding job and there was plenty of talent on hand.


We welcome comments regarding this story or any other entry published by Illinois Prep Bulls-eye.  They can be made by e-mailing us at [email protected].  

Continue to check in with Illinois Prep Bulls-eye for all of the latest as it pertains to high school basketball and recruiting in Illinois.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *